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Your dog is napping by your side while you watch a movie after work.
You keep hearing this clicking, grinding, chattering noise. It’s not background effects on the television – it’s your dog, and they’re damaging their teeth.
Dog teeth chattering is one of three symptoms of something called bruxism.
This is something that humans can also experience, so you might have heard this term once or twice in your years of going to the dentist. That being said, there are also other issues that could be causing them to chatter as well.
Chattering, clicking, and grinding are all sounds that are associated with bruxism, whether it’s jittery teeth or grinding in their sleep. It is dangerous, and it is something you need to get taken care of. We’re going to cover everything you ned to know.
Why Do Dogs Chatter With Their Teeth?
There are multiple causes, but the most common are bruxism and anxiety. We’re going to explore both of these options throughout this little guide and talk about what you can do to help.
Bruxism doesn’t have a cause that we know of, especially in dogs.
Anxiety can come on at any time, for any reason, even if it isn’t trauma-related. I mention this not to scare you, but to let you know that you can do everything right, and your dog can still run into these problems. It’s not your fault.
However, there’s one thing that people fail to mention often, and it’s that dogs can use this to communicate to other dogs and communicate with you, their owner.
When another dog is being highly aggressive, your dog might feel threatened. There’s this alpha mentality, and the other dog might be the one holding it in this situation.
Your dog will be scared and worried, and to tell you that they don’t feel safe. You’re their owner; you always protect them, so this is them telling you that they’re upset by a situation and want to leave.
Dog anxiety can come on for no reason, but failing to identify when your dog feels threatened and subjecting them to these situations, even if it’s by mistake, can have a negative toll on their mental state.
You always want to look for your dog’s body language and make sure they’re comfortable with whatever situation they’re in.
What to do About Persistent Dog Teeth Chattering?
We can break everything down to either oral health/hygiene problems, or anxiety/situational fear and try to communicate that to you. These are what we can do to try and fight these problems as quickly as possible.
Improve Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is very important, but your dog doesn’t really understand that. Instead, you’re going to have to do it for them, and maintain their dental health on a consistent basis.
Dogs also don’t require as much attention as human teeth. The VCA animal hospital suggests that three times per week is enough to fight plaque in your dog’s teeth.
The biggest challenge is going to be getting your dog to accept the toothbrush in the first place. We’ve listed some little things you can do to help your dog’s teeth later on in this guide, but manually brushing their teeth is the foundation for good oral hygiene.
Learn how to identify plaque, cavities, and gum health in your dog. Some different breeds will have different gums, so it’s important to know what to look for specifically in the breed of dog you own.
To get yo8ru dog used to a toothbrush, you can use the same method that we use to get them used to nail grinders and/or trimmers. Introduce them slowly, and use it on yourself first, just like when we try to teach a toddler that hair cuts don’t hurt.
Use the brush on your skin so they can see it doesn’t hurt. Graduate to gently brushing it against the tops of their paws so they can experience it for themselves, then leave them alone. Let them build a short but positive history with that toothbrush.
Identify Stress Triggers
Stress may appear mental in its essence, but stress triggers chemical reactions in the body, puts physical strain on your heart, and more negative side effects than I can cram into one article.
Stress is extremely dangerous, and for your dogs, they don’t have grounding techniques to help them with it. They rely on you. This is how you can identify stress triggers for your dog to help take them out of stressful situations.
It’s not just teeth chattering. Your dog could be lowkey shaking, so it’s important to be able to look at them and see if there’s a bit of vibration going on.
If you suspect a stressful environment, place your hand on the dog’s head and rest it there, so you can feel if they’re shaking. Your hand on their head or behind their ears might be enough to help calm them down in the moment as well.
Loud vs. Quiet
Most dogs can handle loud noises without getting afraid. Instead, they tend to get amped up and want to know the source, maybe a bit defensive for their family. However, some loud noises are enough to send your dog chattering and hiding in another room.
In your home, do your best to avoid sources of loud noises. If you have a drum set, move it to the basement. If you have surround sound for the TV, rearrange the living room so you only use the TV’s native speaker. Things like that.
Notice Demeanor Shifts
Loud noises and shaking might not be the telltale signs for your dog, especially if this is something that’s only been bothering them recently. If they go from being happy to upset or withdrawn right away (hiding behind you), maybe they don’t like the person you’ve started talking to.
If you have a rescue dog, maybe the person you’re talking to reminds them of their bad owner.
We really don’t know, but when your dogs start acting shy, it’s a signal. Dogs are social creatures to both other dogs and humans, so this demeanor shift is a big sign that they’re getting stressed out or anxious.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Teeth Properly
Cleaning your dog’s teeth could be the solution if they’re experiencing these teeth-chattering issues due to a medical reason. Here’s how to clean them properly
Dental treats are basically the best thing you can do, because your dog just thinks of it as a reward.
They can come in things like mint, but there are also other flavors available. Dental chews are soft enough to not hurt their teeth, but hard enough to pull plaque and stuck-on food off of their teeth to keep them clean.
Dental treats can be used multiple times per week as maintenance for your dog’s teeth, just be sure you don’t use them so much that your dog doesn’t see them as treats and doesn’t actually chew on them.
Dogs have a lot of bacteria in their mouths, and when you remove it all, their saliva works overtime to return the good bacteria to their mouths.
Using doggy dental wipes removes the bad and leaves some of the good, and they’re also abrasive enough to gently scrape plaque off of their teeth without causing harm or damage to their teeth.
Dental wipes are excellent if you give your dogs treats while you’re out and about (usually during training), or if you’re travelling with them. You can just pull one out, wipe their teeth, and be done with it.
If you aren’t able to handle the task, your vet will be able to basically act as a doggy dentist and help return their teeth to their former glory.
Vets have the necessary tools to be able to scrape off plaque in a safe way, so your dog can start with a clean slate, giving you the opportunity to clean them properly from here on out.
Vet cleanings can be pricey, but if your dog is experiencing any dental issues or chattering, you should be taking them in anyway. Make it a two-for-one visit.
Helping with your dog’s dental hygiene and health is a good idea no matter what, whether there’s chattering or not. Bruxism technically still doesn’t have a direct cause that researchers have found, and in dogs, it’s even harder to trace.
The number one thing you can do that is within your power is to take care of their teeth and gums.
The Long Fight Against Dog Anxiety
Your dog’s teeth could absolutely be chattering because of anxiety, and technically, that means no medical issues exist. Anxiety is psychological, and then has physical repercussions, makin gis physically debilitating depending on the severity.
It can start out of nowhere, and usually doesn’t go away at any point (if so, it’s very rare for that to happen). You can help your dog combat fight anxiety with a number of things:
The number one combat for anxiety in both humans and adults is exercise. Go on a walk, maybe add more time to each walk or add an entirely additional walk each day, and maintain a high level of athleticism.
The heart needs time to rest and intake the positive effects of exercise, so don’t overdo it, but understand that this changes the way the brain creates chemicals that help deter anxiety.
Most notably, serotonin (the happy hormone) is created which helps stave-off fear for bouts of time. After a while, regular exercise can positively impact anxiety even when your dog isn’t currently in an active or athletic state.
Extensive Dog Training
I don’t mean this to be harsh, but unless you’re a professional dog trainer, you shouldn’t be training an anxious dog. You can indirectly make things worse, and I know you want to help them, but this is best left up to the professionals.
Hire a professional dog trainer who deals with anxiety. When a dog has a structured routine and knows how to behave, it can help them feel more confident.
Confidence is the enemy of anxiety, because that fear and anxiety strips away all surety from your dog’s life and mental state.
Play More, Work Less
Not getting enough playtime with your pup?
It’s time to change that. It’s hard to focus on the negatives in life or feel the physical effects of anxiety when you’re having fun, and since we’re talking about dogs here, fun includes physical activity nine times out of ten, which helps with that serotonin boost we were talking about earlier.
Try to set timers to remind you when you have to play with your dog if you lead a busy at-home work experience.
Praise and Adulation
Praise tells your dog that they’re doing something right, and they’ll develop confidence through positive affirmation.
Words of affirmation, coupled with a good positive vibe and genuinely believing in your dog (they can pick up on body language and tension), you can help your dog’s anxiety. This is one working part of a constant, consistent effort to combat anxiety.
Consistent Habits and Rhythm
Anxiety is fear of the unknown. Not to put your dog down, but they don’t have the same stream of consciousness that humans do – they are afraid, but it’s more of a bodily reaction at this point than cognitive thought.
It’s fear of the unknown, which is what anxiety is in essence. Habitual practices and a rhythm to every day are grounding techniques used in anxiety-related therapy, and they can help your dog.
Do the same thing at the same time every day, and your dog can understand routine while still accepting a low amount of variable events in the day.
Your Dog’s Teeth Shall Chatter No More
Whether it’s bruxism or anxiety, it’s not good for your dog’s teeth (or their health). It’s time nip these issues in the bud right now, while you still can.
We’ve outlined what to do here, but as always, it’s important to get information from your veterinarian. Only they know your dog’s history and can help them to the fullest possible extent.